Weather Forecast


Fire near Deer River singed Enbridge pipeline

A wildfire last week southeast of Deer River singed part of the Enbridge Energy oil pipeline that runs through the area and led to the discovery of a small oil spill at the site.

It's unclear if the spill was related to the fire, but fire officials say no oil burned at the site.

After the fire, company officials surveying damage caused by the fire found a small amount of oil that apparently had "seeped" out of the pipeline unrelated to the fire, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said today.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said earlier claims that the oil may have contributed to the fire were not true, but some sort of material did accumulate in wetlands at the site.

"There was no oil involved in the fire at all. None of our people reported any oil at the time of the fire," said Cynthia Sage, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids.

Still, Enbridge crews placed absorbent materials at the scene where the fire crossed the pipeline and photos of the site show clear damage to the outside of one of the pipelines where it crosses a wetland above ground level.

"It looks like the insulation or coating on the outside might have burned off," Sage said, although PCA officials said that wasn't likely.

An Enbridge official did not immediately return a reporter's phone call. The spill is believed to be about 200 gallons.

The fire, which started April 15 along a county road and eventually burned across 115 acres, required extensive ground and aerial attack to contain and took days to mop up.

One Enbridge pipeline has been moving oil through the area for decades. Another, new pipeline completed last month just began moving additional oil from Canada to Superior.

According to Marty Cobenais of the Indigenous Environmental Network, which opposed the newly built Enbridge Alberta Clipper pipeline, the spill was on Leech Lake reservation land and appeared to come "from a one-inch crack" in one of Enbridge's older pipelines.